From the article: The marketing of fear:
Osteoporosis Australia, a medical foundation, which has received funding from pharmaceutical companies, issued a press release recently urging people to take a one minute test for their risk of osteoporosis.20According to the foundation, “we call this disease a silent thief: if you're not vigilant, it can sneak up on you and snatch your quality of life and your long-term health.” An accompanying 10 point checklist suggests that merely being a menopausal woman was enough to justify a trip to the doctor to be tested for this disease. The construction of the widely used WHO diagnostic criteria is such that large numbers of healthy women at menopause will automatically be diagnosed as having this “disease” because their bones are being compared with those of much younger women.
Against a background of controversy over disease definition, poor predictive value of bone density measurement, and heavily advertised expensive therapies offering marginal benefits to menopausal women, corporate backed promotional activities are attempting to persuade millions of healthy women worldwide that they are sick.
As a practical step, we suggest that health professionals, policy makers, journalists, and consumers move away from reliance on corporate sponsored material about the nature or prevalence of disease. Genuinely independent sources of information about health problems could replace those skewed towards making the maximum numbers of healthy people feel sick.
Just as researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration are generating systematic evaluations of the best evidence about therapies, a similar effort may be required in evaluating and/or producing unbiased information about illness—starting with those conditions most prone to disease mongering. Independent lay involvement is crucial to produce accurate, comprehensive, and accessible materials.
The public is entitled to know about the controversy surrounding disease definitions and about the self limiting and relatively benign natural course of many conditions. A publicly funded and independently run programme of “de-medicalisation,” based on respect for human dignity, rather than shareholder value or professional hubris, is overdue.
Recommendations for “de-medicalising” normal conditions:
Move away from using corporate funded information on medical conditions/ diseases
Generate independent accessible materials on conditions and diseases
Widen notions of informed consent to include information about controversy surrounding the definitions of conditions and diseases